Sunday, May 13, 2007

I Don't Need More Mail

You know what's funny? When I read writer's boards like Verla Kay, and writers say "You know, my unagented manuscript's been with the publisher for 7 months now. I think it's time I sent them a status check postcard to find out what's going on."

I'll tell you what's going on, writers. Your manuscript is sitting in a big pile next to my desk. Probably close to the bottom of the pile. Unfortunately, I haven't had the time to get to it yet. Fortunately, it's summer and we're getting an intern and maybe she'll get to it. Hope springs eternal, etc.

But when I get your postcard, asking about the status of your novel, do you really think I am going to go digging to locate yours?

(Answer: I am not.)

The only thing the status postcard accomplishes is that it makes me feel a little guilty. But the giant heaping pile of slush hanging out next to my desk makes me feel guilty all the time anyway, so the extra little bit of guilt isn't going to move mountains or anything.

Sorry. I know it's not what you want to hear. I'm trying, I swear!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Some Friendly Advice

A tip for writers:

If you submit a query letter to the slush pile, and you are lucky enough to get a response requesting that you send the full manuscript, this is what you will do, if you are smart:

Include a copy of the original query. Also nice, though not necessary, is to include a copy of the letter/postcard requesting the manuscript.

Because the world of publishing can be a shady place, my friends. Sometimes someone thinks they’re clever and send in a full manuscript and writes “requested material” on the envelope, and thinks that’s going to get it noticed better.

What really happens is that the editor it’s addressed to looks at it, doesn’t recall requesting it, and tosses it on the slush pile.

Sometimes we don’t remember what we requested. Like if a slush query looked intriguing, and we sent out a request for more, and it comes a few months later.

So include the original query, so that we can see clearly that you are not a shady writer trying to get ahead, but rather a legitimate writer with good stuff.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Why are you stupid?

Here’s what I don’t understand.

If you’re going to go through all the trouble of looking up a publishing house’s address online, why won’t you go a step further and find out what the proper protocol is for sending queries?

And okay, maybe you’re a lazy bum and you like me to do your work for you (by sending you a copy of our submissions guidelines, not even a rejection letter.) But at least if you know enough about publishing houses to send your MS, you have the sense to include an SASE?

Seriously, people. If you’re eleven years old and your letter is adorable, maybe maybe maybe I’ll forgive this trespass and send you back your letter with a firm note indicating that you should include one next time. But if you’re a grown-up? No. I don’t care how lovely your story is. It goes in the trash, and you’re not hearing back from me in this lifetime.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

No Use Crying Over Buried Query Letters

Hi aspiring author,

Look, I know you sent in your query letter to us a million billion years ago. I know it is frustrating for you to have to wait. It is frustrating for me, too. Look, there are two piles next to my desk that are almost as high as my desk is, filled with slush. It was that way when I got there. I want nothing more (okay, I want a lot of things more, but I want this a lot) to have the chance to devote a couple of hours to reading through your hopes and dreams and giving you people some answers.

In fact, I feel a little bit guilty every time I sit down at my desk.

But I don't do anything about it. And you know why? Because I am busy. I am really, really, really busy working on books we've already acquired, books we're already publishing. I am really busy, and the editors I work for are even busier. I barely have time to read the agented submissions. That's what my commute is for. And so the pile keeps growing, a few more envelopes every day.

I try. I make a point of reading and responding to at least two pieces of slush a day. It isn't much, but at least it's something. At least it's two more people who aren't wondering any more.

So I am sorry. I do my best, but that's about all I can do.

So don't be annoying, aspiring novelist. Don't send me a fax that says, "from one human being to another, please tell me what the status of my query is." Because you know what the status of your query is? Buried under five hundred other queries, that's what. I'm sorry you're antsy. I'm sorry it's taken so long. Really, I am.

But you know what else? There's freaking nothing I can do about it right now.

So stop whining.


The Kidlitjunkie